On Tuesday the 20th, we headed to Kyoto which is famous for having lots of history and beautiful shrines and temples. Our first stop was Sanjuusangendou (33 Ken Hall), which I had also been to on the 2010 May Trip. It was a long hall of 1000 gold colored statues of Kannon, a Buddhist sort-of deity ("sort-of" because explaining Buddhism in terms of Western religion isn't usually quite accurate). Unfortunately, there were signs everywhere in there prohibiting the taking of pictures and even ones that said they'd check your camera to make sure you didn't take any pictures, though I didn't see anyone actually doing that. Here's a picture from the internet:
Next we went to Kiyomizu Temple, which I had also been to before. It's a big temple with a nice view from a stage that sticks out from the side of the mountain. Apparently in the Edo period, people jumped off of this stage in order to have a wish granted if they survived the 13 meter drop. Because of that, now there's an expression in Japanese "to jump off the stage at Kiyomizu" which is like the English phrase "to take the plunge". On the way up to and down from the temple, there were a whole lot of gift shops along the sides of the road as well as places selling traditional Kyoto sweets and desserts. I got a good bit of shopping done there.
Next we were going to go to Nijo Castle but it was unexpectedly closed so we continued on to the Temple of the Golden Pavilion. It was very pretty and had nice Japanese landscaping/gardens all around it. One thing that made these traditional gardens look particularly nice and exotic is that the ground was just covered in light colored moss and there was no grass to be seen.
After that we went to Ginkakuji, The Temple of the Silver Pavilion. It also had lots of traditional Japanese landscaping and moss surrounding it with the addition of sculpted sand.
In the evening, we checked into our hotel and went to a fancy, several course, Japanese-style restaurant. There was also sake, which I didn't like much, and a small bowl of citrus sake which everyone including me loved.
After that we went to Kyoto tower and looked at the view which was pretty amazing with the free viewing telescopes which everyone was amusing themselves with by pointing them in creepy places that were watching people eat or do things in their hotel rooms.
Then we just walked around a bit and hung out. It was probably our busiest day on the Honshu trip.